What’s the Difference Between Christian Courtship and Dating?
Written by Christi Given | January 3, 2019
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What’s the difference between Christian courtship and dating? This is a great question and comes with different perspectives and beliefs, depending on your age and circumstances, but I will try to answer this question to the best of my ability with my research and study on the topic.
Courtship, according to Christian beliefs, is pure dating (abstaining from sexual activities) with the intention of marriage. Courting is more serious than just secular dating. When a man courts a woman, he makes his intentions known. The man may present a promise ring or purity ring and will do his best to keep his boundaries pure until marriage.
While in a courtship, many couples date in public and avoid being alone together, especially at night. Getting accountability partners and wise counsel is a great way to walk the path of courtship into engagement. Many couples do premarital courses together, and they will typically be a part of each other’s family life. Different than just dating, courtship is more of a long-term version of dating with the clarity of a commitment and vision of possible marriage.
There is an article on courtship I find valuable on the Living Water Brook website, which you can read in the source link below. The author mentions that in a courtship, “on a personal level, they discuss the Bible, spend time to pray and do spiritual things together. Even have their morning and night prayers together, over the phone, of course.”
According to Dorcus Guzo, the Living Water Brook blogger, in “Christian courtship: Beyond the name, practices, rules… (Part 1),” here are some other aspects of a Christian courtship:
“When two people say they are in a ‘Christian relationship,’ they are almost always trying to say that they are keeping sex till after marriage. The initiation of the relationship may have followed a laid-down order. This depends on what is accepted among the gathering of God’s children one meets with. Spiritually matured people in their [lives] are involved, including the leaders of the Christians’ group they are part of. The course of the relationship shouldn’t exceed a year (accepted Christian standard). They may move around with what I can call a chaperone.”
The world’s standards of dating are low, as there is an agenda to sell and push sex on youth through social media, magazines and music. Marriage is not highly valued in our culture, and people even oppose it by bringing up statistics instead of doing the work themselves for an intimate and powerful relationship and union. People belittle the picture of marriage that reflects Christ laying his life down for his church (the bride), and how he will come and get her and rapture her when she is clothed in white and is ready for her groom. The real wedding we’re all waiting for is the wedding supper of the lamb.
In the secular world of dating, they will tell you to sign up for any hookup app or just swipe left or right to find “The One” based on looks. Even our society encourages the one-night stands and hookup culture, which only leads to heartbreak and sometimes even death. It’s scary how deceived our world is and how biblically illiterate people are. There is a stigma about marriage because people are “lovers of self…and pleasure…rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3). Some people don’t want to commit and to sacrifice their desires and needs for the sake of the love of their life, but would rather have freedom to do whatever without the sting of that covenant to do the right thing, even when it doesn’t feel good or pleasurable at the moment.
Marriage and courtship is similar to our relationship with Jesus. We commit to Him and our decisions sometimes are not easy. Would my decision on this glorify my eternal husband? Would this represent my King well? Should I do, act or say this, or could it harm my relationship with Yeshua (Jesus Christ)? See, marriage and courtship in the context of the Bible is about serving and being selfless. Marriage is a potential ministry. It’s NOT about self-gratification and having sex. Yes, God blesses it with intimacy in covenant agreement where there is honor, but there are other dynamics of being wholeheartedly devoted to God and one another.
In many people’s version of dating, you are free to be with multiple people, and there IS NO DISCIPLINE OR ACCOUNTABILITY. In dating, it’s kind of a trial-and-error or free-for-all. It can really lead nowhere when it’s not centered around Christ. When our relationships are based on what WE want and what checklists we have, we end up selecting the wrong choice instead of being pure and spirit-led and asking God what HE wants. We need to get out of the world’s standards of dating and the Hollywood romance flicks, which don’t paint godly pictures or examples.
As Christians and Christ-followers, we need to surround ourselves with godly couples who have experience and have lived out the faith walk in commitment and truth. We need mentors and people we can learn from so we can make wise choices for lifelong decisions. We need to stay humble and teachable and willing to serve one another. We must love others before ourselves, even our future spouses.
PI Girls, do you believe in dating or do you agree with courting, or both? Comment below!